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KeSPA announces end of StarCraft ProLeague after 14-Year run

It’s a sad day for eSports enthusiasts and StarCraft fans. While South Korea did establish a pedestal of gaming dominance with a decade’s worth of StarCraft supremacy, its ProLeague days are coming to an end.

According to the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA), this year’s 14th StarCraft ProLeague in South Korea will mark the end of quite the dynastic run for StarCraft 2‘s Korean invasion.

This makes it 14 years of intense and highly-competitive StarCraft gaming where the stakes are high and the rewards are truly satisfying.

KeSPA chairman Jun Byung Hun told fans through a Facebook post that the ProLeague will be ceasing its decades-long run after a decline in teams and players. He added there were difficulties with sponsorships and match-fixing that added to their problems.

The initial steps of StarCraft fandom in South Korea (and before it invaded other countries) was a surprise reaction indeed. The revamping of StarCraft graphics and the continuation of the much-mysterious storyline was a hit, sure, but this?

This ushered a revolution. But sadly, these things don’t last forever.

“We hope that StarCraft ProLeague will live on in the memories of its players, fans, and all affiliated parties as an invaluable asset that pioneered the eSports industry,” Jun said, “and contributed to establishing competitive gaming as a mainstream culture in Korea. ”

It wasn’t the end for StarCraft tournaments everywhere, though. KeSPA will find ways to support gamers that will compete in the WCS Global Finals this November.


Ending beginnings, starting legacies

An immediate sign of the end began when sister game Overwatch overtook South Korean computer cafes after its immense launch. Of course, this was aside from the other issues that currently plagued the already-problematic KeSPA.

But it wasn’t always good news for Blizzard either. A broken World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor almost tore its entire community apart, and StarCraft 2 was just the tip of the iceberg.

And when more games started to add themselves to the battlefield, eSports met a sudden resurgence of content and niches. However, it also meant the old will inevitably usher the new.

Is anyone to blame? Not entirely. The StarCraft tournaments in South Korea had a good run, and we will surely miss them indeed, but a bigger picture had to be painted.

First, we have to establish that South Korea was perhaps the home of ultra-competitive eSports. Home not in the sense that the firsts were all in South Korea, but the place proved to be home to some of the best of the best.

Of course it was sad to see the “best” disband. They were “heroes” in their own right. However, death is an essential part of evolution.

This “death” marks the resurgence of eSports as a legacy. It’s not simply a tight-knit community of competitive gamers who enjoy a set piece of games.

The end of Korea’s StarCraft era was a transition. A metamorphosis of sorts. While we wouldn’t be building pylons competitively anytime soon, there’s a huge arrival of wonders in the eSports scene. And Korea is just the beginning.

Gaming, competitive gaming, rather, has found a home in a lot of unique multiplayer experiences.

DoTA 2 and League of Legends are making a mark as the go-to team games of the season. Entire tournaments had just as big risks and rewards. And did I mention the current League of Legends World Championship had a whopping $4-million pot, and the recently-concluded DoTA 2 Internationals 6 had over $20-million in winnings?

Heroes of the Storm marked Blizzard’s arrival in the MoBA scene, and in a surprise twist, Overwatch is starting to conquer the world by storm.

Not to mention competitive fighting game tournaments are still a thing. There’s a reason Street Fighter is hard to master, and I’d love to put it in my resume if I do get my Hadoukens properly.

It’s not an entirely bad news for the StarCraft community. While teams have indeed started to disband, eSports has a lot more to offer. Looking at it from the bright side, this means eSports continues to be an evolving medium.

Just like how one era ushers in another, only one could hope for eSports’ next big surprise on the horizon.

Rhenn Taguiam

Rhenn Taguiam is a frustrated journalist with a knack for comic books and video games. He likes pizza and pasta, and has an uncontrollable urge to gush over anything Super Sentai, Star Trek or X-Men. He is currently on his way to get his Master's Degree - unless he creates his own video game or graphic novel first.

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